But who can endure the day of his coming? Who can stand when he appears? For he will be like a refiner’s fire or a launderer’s soap. ~Malachi 3:2 NIV
One part of my story has had me asking God many questions lately, and I’ve even wondered aloud to some friends what he’s trying to tell me. This is one of those personal heart issues I find hard to explain to people. My feelings have ebbed and flowed, some days easier to get through than others. I’ve talked to God about it over and over. I’ve asked for clarity, some glimpse into the plan or a change of plan, or some balm for my heart. I’ve asked for his will to be done, which I know is a risky request, because his will might not be the same as my plans.
No answer came, or so it seemed, but God was faithful to provide comfort in the process through his Word, his people, and just through talking to him.
Then I took my kids to hear a free concert of Handel’s Messiah. At some point the singing is about God being like a refiner’s fire. Those words resonated with me and sent me to the internet to see what refining is all about.
Basically, a smith heats ore, which can contain more than one metal, to separate the lesser metals (impurities) from the valuable ones. Eventually, as the smith removes more impurities, he will be able to see his reflection in the pure metal. Sometimes this process takes place many times over because different impurities are removed at different temperatures.
Wow. No wonder we feel different levels of “heat” during the various trials of life. For some trials, we need to be in the heat for only a day or two. For others, we spend months or even years being refined.
God is working on me. That is the answer. He is refining my heart and my spirit so that I reflect more of him. Jesus experienced the fire during his life too, and if I am going to be like him, my heart must be refined. The process is sometimes painful, and I still don’t know the final result, but I’m grateful that God showed me he is working on me, trying to make me more like Jesus. The mention of the refiner’s fire reminded me that God moves, and that even when it’s hard, I can trust him because the refiner never takes his eyes off the silver. I know God is watching every second, making certain my heart doesn’t get overheated, and when I’m in the fire he’s encouraging me to keep waiting through the process. I can rejoice because, in the end, after the fire, I should look at least a little and hopefully a lot more like Jesus.
As you move into the new year, looking for clarity, answers, and direction, can you see how God is working on refining your heart? What is he using in your life, in your hard places, to make you better reflect the heart of Jesus?
Lord, be with us in the fire. Thank you for the reminder that you are ever watchful over our hearts and are working on turning us into better reflections of Jesus. Give us strength to hold on through the heat and comfort when we feel as though we cannot stand another minute. Amen.
Scripture for Reflection
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. (James 1:2–3 NIV)
In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. (1 Peter 1:6–7 NIV)
Reach for More
If you are feeling the heat of the refiner’s fire right now, send up a prayer asking the Lord to be with you. Make a list of all the ways he might use whatever he is refining to make you more like Jesus, to soften your heart, or to bless others with comfort, love, or a shared trial. Maybe he will use you to get someone else through the refining process.
enjoys a crazy, beautiful life with her military husband and four sons. A baby and toddler interrupt her homeschool days in the best ways, and she is always attempting to live with mindfulness of each moment. She hopes to look at the world and each person in it in light of our amazing Creator and therefore, to see each moment presented as an opportunity to love and serve him more. Carla relishes time to ponder God’s Word and have quiet moments with him and her coffee. She loves doing life with other mamas and encouraging them to simply be who God has made them to be.
Photograph © Amador Loureiro, used with permission